Local, EU elections and Pakistani Christians – the call is yours
The local council and EU elections are over in the UK, and all three main parties seem concerned about the results, while UKIP (UK independence party) has claimed victory in both elections. Dozens of Pakistanis have won local council seats, while three Pakistanis have won European Parliament seats too.
Tory MEP Sajjad Karim was able to retain his seat while Afzal Khan of the Labour party and Bashir Amjad of UKIP have been elected MEPs for the first time.
The Pakistani community seems joyous as now they have a considerable presence in British politics. Now they have their Pakistani Muslim representatives to speak for them in the local councils, House of Commons, House of Lords and even the EU, from where they will be able to raise the profile of their community, and of Pakistan too.
In this whole scenario Pakistani Christians, James Shera, of the Labour party has been re-elected for the 10th time, while the young and highly educated Fraz Money, son of well-known businessman and ex Labour councilor Edgar Money, also won the local council election. I am sure he will go very far, and my best wishes are with him. But wouldn’t it be nice if a few more young people join him to support the persecuted Christian community?
However, I am not aware of any Pakistani Christian having even entered the EU elections, not just from the UK, but from other European countries. This is very disappointing.
Within the last few years other Asian communities, and particularly Pakistani Muslims, have been persistently working to make their place in British and European politics as they believe reaching these international forums and voicing within these forums is very affective and important in finding a solution to the Muslim world’s suffering. But Pakistani Christians seem less interested in British and EU politics, despite considering themselves the most persecuted community.
There are several Christian groups who are active and organise protests against the ongoing persecution of Christians in Pakistan and especially when a church is attacked or Christian town is torched. Unfortunately these rallies have mostly proved ineffective and the Pakistani government hardly takes them seriously.
But why are Pakistani Christians not taking steps in the right direction to reach the corridor of power to make ourselves taken seriously not by the Pakistani government but the world too? Is it because they are ignorant of the significance of joining UK politics, especially the European parliament, or because they lack the abilities? Whatever the problem, it has to be faced and overcome.
All three major parties always look for Asian candidates, especially for local elections but Pakistani Christians do not bring them forward. Perhaps it is psychological as we are not accepted in mainstream politics, but in the UK there is a huge scope and equal opportunities are available for everyone, with no one being treated on the basis of race, religion or social status, but purely on merit.
The process of becoming a candidate is very transparent and democratic, and if you have a few supporters, good reputation and political characteristics, nobody can stop you from moving forward. We have several Pakistani people who have become mayors, MPs, Lords and ministers like Sayeeda Warsi, State minster for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid, several Lords and MPs including Rehman Chishti – who is very vocal about persecution of Christians, minorities and a big critic of the blasphemy law. Pakistani Muslims and several other Asian MPs and Lords have gained this status and respect through hard work and now is the time for Pakistani Christians. It is very important for us to understand the changing realities of global politics, to reach these power houses as this is the need of the time. If we are really concerned about what is going on with Christians in Pakistan and elsewhere, and we want to make a real difference and eliminate their suffering, then there is no other better way to do this.
Next year the general elections are going to be held. I am aware of several Pakistani candidates, but again I am not aware of any Pakistani Christian standing in the next general election. Though most parties have already elected their candidates, there is still time. Contesting elections on the platform of any major political party is very beneficial in many ways and chances are always high of being elected, but in every election several independent candidates are elected too. They have the same respect and rights. Therefore, if you have a heart for your community, you think you can make a difference, and can become a voice for your community, then your community needs you – come forward and bear the cross. The call is yours.